Texas, Argentina: 4 Similarities Between 2 Countries
Going from Chicago to Fort Worth, Texas in August 2012 to start university was like traveling and living in another country. I had grown up in one of the most liberal neighborhoods in one of the most liberal cities in the United States to move to THE most conservative county in the nation. To say it was a culture shock would be an understatement. However, I grew to love the culture, weather, and people of Texas. I even recommend it to every foreigner I meet on the road when they ask me where to travel in the States. After living there for almost 5 years, I would say I have a good grasp on what Texas is all about. So it came as a surprise to me when I traveled to Argentina last December to see some similarities. Despite being 5,390 miles apart, there were 4 things that stood out and reminded me of Texas:
Argentina is perhaps best known for their meat. According to Lonely Planet, Argentinians consume 70 kilograms of meat each year, but that number used to be even higher! There are people that come from all over the world just to try the Argentinian carne. Texas is no slouch either. Much like Argentina has it’s asados, Texas is known for its barbecued meats. In fact, Fort Worth is known by its nickname, “Cowtown”, named for the cattle drives that came through the city on the Chisholm Trail. You can still visit the former Stockyards to this day. From brisket to ribs to steak, there are Texas-styled barbecue restaurants all over the world. Once you’ve tried Hill country brisket, all meat is flavorless. Game over!
2. Cowboys/ Gauchos
Gauchos used to roam Argentinian grasslands during the 18th and 19th Century. They used to herd cattle and wild horses to sell their hides to different European traders. Eventually, they became fighters as well and fought off the Spanish colonial army during the mid-19th century. Much like gauchos, cowboys were free spirits on horses that herded cattle to the Northern US to be sold for a significantly higher price than in the south. Sometimes they got into trouble in gambling parlors, saloons, and dance halls while stopping over in various cities on their journey north. Known for their hats and their attire, both cowboys and gauchos have been glorified in movies, TV, and books. Both still play a large role in their respective culture today.
3. Immigrants/ Immigrantes
Both Argentina and Texas were built with the will and determination of their immigration populations that were looking to set down roots and create a better life for themselves and their families. Argentina has a long history of immigration starting with Spanish colonization, but a mass migration happened in the mid-19th century as Europeans from Poland, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and many other countries came to Argentina to escape conflict. The influence is still felt today as Argentina is the most European “feeling” country in South America. Texas was also built with the help of immigrants. Immigrants from all European countries came to settle land during the 19th Century, but especially Germans, Czechs, and Poles. The influence of their immigration is seen today. For example, towns with names like New Braunfels and Boerne have a heavy German heritage population. There is even a Texas German dialect that is dying out, but spoken by some elderly people. In central Texas, Czech Stop is a famous road trip rest for those interested in trying kolaches. I highly recommend them!
4. Dance/ Baile
One of my favorite parts about South America in general is the importance of dance in their culture. Argentina is no exception. The Argentine Tango is an intricate dance that is hard to master, but beautiful to watch. The dance is a mix of various influences from African to European to New World. It started out as a banned form of expression that was resented by the upper echelons of society as it was seen as a dance for the lower class. It wasn’t until it the 1920’s when it was embraced by Europeans that Argentinians decided it was good enough to be a cultural treasure. It is now taught all over the world. Texas, on the other hand, has always embraced its own dance called the Texas Two Step. The Two Step evolved from the Foxtrot when Texans added their own smoother glide to the dance to compensate for the fact that they needed to dance with boots on. Like the Argentine Tango, the two step was first adopted by poorer, rural residents that eventually became Texas’ beloved cultural dance. It is taught from a young age in the state and it is the way many young couples have met.
Overall, while the countries are still very different in many ways, they have some interesting similarities. It just shows how powerful immigration truly is on a culture! Have you noticed any similarities between two countries in terms of their culture? Comment below!
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